Mental health can have significant effects on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. Worldwide, mental health disorders have been quantified as being amongst the most burdensome of all classes of disorders because of their high prevalence, early age of onset, chronicity and associated functional impairment.

A study of 1,660 people aged 18 to 65 years attending Qatar’s primary health care centers found that nearly 25% of adults who attended a public health consultation, had at least one type of mental disorder. Additionally, the study found 9.3% of the primary care population had a high rate of depression within this study group, anxiety and stress with co-existing physical health conditions. Depression accounted for 13.5% of mental disorders followed by anxiety at 10.3%. Women were at higher risk than men with a female to male ratio of 1.3 to 1.

Health implications

People with mental illness experience high rates of disability and mortality and the social impact of mental illness can be severe, affecting their daily life, relationships, education and employment. In addition to mental health disorders impacting on people’s wellbeing, they pose a notable burden to health systems, social welfare and economic output. Mental illness can increase the risk of a person developing physical illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, heart and neurological disease, can exacerbate the severity of existing illnesses and compromise recovery from illness and injury. Many risk factors such as stress, low socioeconomic status and substance use are common to both mental disorders and other non-communicable diseases.

Mental Health Objectives

Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer may account for the majority of deaths among Qatar’s population, but it is mental health disorders that pose the biggest threat to the quality of life that people in Qatar are able to enjoy. A significant hurdle to the successful treatment of people with mental health disorders is the stigma associated with the conditions. The strategy’s Mental Health Objectives seek to encourage people to speak openly about mental health disorders and for them to seek help early. Education and raising awareness are central themes of the strategy’s objectives.

(Source: Prevalence of mental disorders in adult population attending primary health care setting in Qatari population 2011)

Mental Health Objectives

  1. MH1 Raise public awareness about mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental health illness, including an increase in the Mental Health Attitudes and Awareness Index
  2. MH2 Establish multi-sectoral targeted mental health promotion and prevention programs for different populations, including workers, children and young people, and families
  3. MH3 Develop and disseminate mental health information, including a national website to promote early access to services
  4. MH4 Develop and implement national initiatives for the prevention of suicide and self harm